Community objects to proposed tall towers in GungahlinAn artist's depiction of the Gungahlin Central Park project Photo: Supplied

Community objects to proposed tall towers in Gungahlin

Ross Peake

The Gungahlin Community Council is stunned by the decision to build three tall residential towers on the edge of the town centre.

“It’s come out of left field,” council president Peter Elford said.

“It is unexpected, I mean even some members of our community council were unaware this project was going ahead.”

Council members are also dismayed the development for the towers, with the tallest reaching almost 70 metres, was approved just days before a 23-metre height limit is imposed for all new structures in Gungahlin.Once completed, the tallest of the towers will be the highest structure in

Canberra after Telstra Tower, and the second-tallest residential building in the territory after Geocon’s Wayfarer tower in Belconnen.

Geocon bought the 17,264-square-metre block on which the towers complex will be built, for $2.5 million in 2010, with the original intention of building a commercial precinct.

A car park and childcare centre have already been built on the land, which is bound by Anthony Rolfe Avenue, Gundaroo Drive and Gribble Street.

Mr Elford said the proposal was not consistent with the town centre plan nor with what the community wanted.

“I’d love to have someone in the ACT government explain to me the rationale of allowing the proposal and almost immediately introducing legislation to limit buildings to 23 metres, it kind of makes a mockery of the decision,” he said.

“The towers are huge and for large portions of Gungahlin, they will dominate the skyline, that’s certainly not what I expected.

“Where they are is in a very visible area, surrounded by a park on one side, overlooking the lake and adjacent to other areas that are meant to be office parks.

“it just doesn’t seem like a sensible thing, it doesn’t seem natural.

“if it was in the middle of the town centre then perhaps it might make more sense,” Mr Elford said.

“We don’t think three big residential towers on the edge of the town centre, not in the centre of the town centre, is in any way consistent with an overall plan for the town centre, let alone Gungahlin as a whole.

“It’s a good example of some of the planning decisions the ACT government makes, where they’re made on a site by site, application by application basis, not in the context of a bigger framework.”

The council’s survey of 1200 Gungahlin residents found objections to tall buildings in the town centre.

“There was a pretty strong result that indicated we don’t want tall buildings,” Mr Elford said.

“Fewer than 10 per cent of respondents favoured over 20 stories, barely 11 per cent said 10 to 20 stories, with 80 per cent of respondents saying they wanted 10 stories or less.”

Icon Water initially opposed the application on the grounds the sewer infrastructure could not cope.

The $250 million project will not proceed until the territory’s water authority approves a plan to improve sewerage on the site.

Mr Elford said the council had put its concerns to the developers.

“I note the development is contingent on upgrades for water and sewerage infrastructure for that area but we are more concerned about the roads in that area … the situation with roads in Gungahlin is terrible,” he said.

“There are a number of projects underway to address that but when you keep adding suburbs and large density projects like this without also planning to upgrade the road infrastructure, you’re just asking for trouble.

“The location … is right on a trunk road that is already grossly overloaded.

If we’re going to have more people in the town centre, we should have projects in place that enable people to avoid commuting as much, such as the idea of a smart work hub in Gungahlin.”

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